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Old 08-16-2008, 08:58 PM
 
Location: NY
1,416 posts, read 3,422,247 times
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Default Public records on real estate/FOIA question

I know that in most (all?) states, anyone can get a copy of any public record about a house (taxes, assessment information, building dept records, owners name, etc) simply by filling out a FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) request form and paying a small fee.

But does it also work in reverse, in other words can we as the owners of the house find out who has gotten copies of our records under the FOIA? Does the owner have a right to see copies of any FOIA requests made, or find out who the requesters were?

I realize that this may differ by state but haven't been able to find an answer to this question on any of the Federal or State websites that deal with the FOIA. So I'm hoping that since real estate professionals probably access this sort of information routinely, someone might know the answer. Thanks!
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Old 08-16-2008, 09:36 PM
 
Location: Fayetteville, NC
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In our county in NC it is on-line. No FOIA or fee. Anybody can look at them.
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Old 08-17-2008, 04:58 AM
 
Location: Venice Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faabala View Post
In our county in NC it is on-line. No FOIA or fee. Anybody can look at them.
Just change NC to FL
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:42 AM
 
1,723 posts, read 3,600,299 times
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There is only one county in my area of VA that doesn't have them available for free on-line.
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:59 AM
 
Location: Barrington
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It's online, by county, in Illinois, too.
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Old 08-17-2008, 08:23 AM
 
Location: NY
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Things sure sound easier in those other states!! In our particular county in NY, both the property tax and building dept records are handled by the individual Townships; of the 10 townships we have, only 3 have records online, and those are only the very basic property tax records (in other words it will show you the owners name and the current taxes and any exemptions they may be getting, but that's it). In order to find out anything else, like whether the house has the required permit for a swimming pool for instance, you have to go to the Town Offices in person and fill out a form and pay a fee (or you can mail it in but that takes longer). So pretty much any solid information is only given out under the FOIA.

In our neighboring county the property tax records are handled by the County rather than the Towns, and those records are online but again it's very basic. It doesn't even show the square footage of a house, for instance. Anything to do with the building dept (permits, square footage, etc) is handled by one of the individual Townships and none of that is online, you have to go through the form-and-fee procedure to find out anything.

I guess in NY it's "anything to make a buck"!!
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Old 08-17-2008, 08:44 AM
 
Location: Barrington
19,183 posts, read 13,621,948 times
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I did not realize you were talking about building permits. That information is not available online, in my area. I suspect this is true in most areas.

Each county in my state has a different way of showing basic property information. Some of the more progressive counties report square footage as it is recorded, which does not mean it's accurate. Some report last sale and some do not.

There are many places in the U.S. that seal all property records and the public has no access to any information, fee or otherwise.
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Old 08-17-2008, 09:10 AM
 
Location: Venice Florida
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In Charlotte County Florida I can go online and check on building permits, past and present. I can check on a contractors license (do they really have one). The property appraiser has very good information including links to public records so I can view recorded deeds. Sarasota is nearly as good but has a way to go to be as public friendly as Charlotte. I guess I'm spoiled.
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Old 08-17-2008, 09:43 AM
 
Location: Salem, OR
10,850 posts, read 18,116,894 times
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I can check recent permits online (I think since 2004) anything else I have to go and get the records at the permits office. No FOIA form to fill out here, but you do have to pay an $8.00 search fee for the permit history.

Otherwise everything else is online or easily accessed.
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Old 08-17-2008, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Mountain Ranch, CA The heart of Calaveras County
6,047 posts, read 11,145,009 times
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In CA permit information is available as a public record. FOIA requests are for information that is not necessarily public, but has been collected by a government agency in the course of business.

My county has an excellent online resource, but won't allow names to be published online, yet I can walk into the assessors office and get the name information directly from their computer system.
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